At 74, Sarah wakes up each morning and goes through her regular routine. Sure, her arthritis makes the first few steps painful, but she has learned how to adapt.
It wasn’t too long ago that she was working full time, and before that running a house full of children. Life has been full of the need to adapt, and Sarah has always conquered her new challenges.
Jessie is Sarah’s daughter. She lives out of town, is working and raising her family. On her last trip home, she noticed that her Mom was not getting around as easily as before and she started to worry about her being on her own.
Jessie decided to get Sarah a personal emergency response system, or emergency button, in case she had a fall. “It will bring you peace of mind in case something happens when you are alone,” she said. But, Sarah keeps the button in her desk drawer. The idea of accidentally hitting it and having the paramedics knock down her door did not bring Sarah “peace of mind”, it brought on more anxiety.
The things that bring peace of mind to a loved one, isn’t necessarily what brings peace of mind to the senior. We all have different motivations and priorities. Understanding that when communicating will help families find a comfortable middle ground that meets everyone’s needs.
What is it that truly brings your loved one their own peace of mind? For Sarah, it was connection to her children. Using technology to check in on her made it seem like her children wanted to use the tools instead of talking to her. It made her feel like a problem that Jessie wanted to solve. But, for her daughter, it was a way to make sure that her Mom was safe because she wasn’t close by.
Taking the time to talk through your own personal motivations and not projecting your feelings onto the senior will help them understand why the safety measures are important to you. Likewise, getting the senior to talk about how the “help” makes them feel, will allow for open communication and can ultimately lead to compromises that work for everyone.
For Sarah and Jessie, they compromised that they would start each day with a quick good morning phone call as a check in, and Sarah agreed to wear the button when she was going up and down the stairs to the basement to do laundry, bringing everyone their own personal peace of mind.
Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Dana Jessup, CSA, CADDCT, CDP. Dana Jessup is the owner of Friends For Life, Inc. and may be reached at 303-321- 2822 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.